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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 24, 2012 1:00am-1:30am EST

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tria sha wr ro recounsels the suse.esses of the night senate during the 1960s and '7s so. oliver saxe dis hapsses -- >> and washington post-ses. bor cockeespondent reports on the military and the government's failings in the war in thoroanistan. ...n w
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well-known face for c-span viewers mary frances berry professor at the university
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of pennsylvania also of the author of several books. we're at the university of pennsylvania to talk to her about and justice for all. the united states commission on civil rights in the continuing struggle for freedom in america quote. when did this all rights commission begin? >> 1957. president eisenhower had a lot of discussion with john foster dulles the secretary of state because of the races around the world people would hear about and read about and the fact there seemed to be episodes whether lynching or discrimination in the country. eisenhower said he would ask congress to set up a civil-rights commission to
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put the facts on the table and i am told by someone at the meeting he slammed the table and they will put the facts on the table. policy is sometimes said up because there is a tough problem is that the report then they go away but in the future would depend on what it found out and how aggressive it was in the public thought about it. >>host: initially it was set up as a temporary commission? >>guest: right. the right age one year before the overall crisis. it was too diffuse part of the crisis to present a better image of the country to the world.
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if on the way they could recommend solutions, that would be great. >>host: who was the first commission? >>guest: to put people on there who would be respected. from the white man he was president from university of mish station michigan. the secretary of labor thought he was a moderate i read all of the white house files i did not just serve on the commission i got all the files and we had all of it so we could see inside though one lone black guy in the eisenhower white house the listlessly to have names to a point* people he said
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he will not get in trouble making him do it. but there was the a professor from motor dame another important figure 57 mary frances berry when did you serve as tear? >>guest: i came to the commission in 1980 after serving in the carter administration running education programs for after being chancellor the university of colorado boulder people said was the first woman to be a the stage at a research university. i had a fight with ronald reagan even though i was a commissioner one of my latino women was the only other minority we would dissent when they would try to do something that was terrible.
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we had a big fight with him but i went to all of those. >>host: but president carter appointed you? >> yes. then there is a new department of education and i went back to teaching and that i was appointed. >>host: when did the clear it would be a permanent agency? >>guest: after the first year. the commission was set of sitting down to say we will just served, they did some hearings. the major power the commission has, when it does what it is supposed to do, it will listen to people and civil rights problems that they could not get
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anyone to pay attention. the federal government. nobody would pay attention. the first year they would go out and listen to the people. they have the power to subpoena any one. eisenhower said i want to get it passed by congress because my attorney-general tells me that is the only way they can subpoena anybody. given the problems of some people may not want to testify. so they went in the south and looked all over and made recommendations that were controversial but made sense. after they were there for a while it was clear they needed to work on the issues. then little rock have been
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and civil-rights heated up. it was clear. the commission tried to figure out what to recommend to the government to bring to fruition what the people were protesting about. people were dying and going to jail but they made recommendations about what legislation will look-alike that may alleviate the problems. >>host: to go back, were all members originally appointed by president eisenhower? >>guest: yes. and confirmed by the senate. you had to back then. some people were democrats and some more republicans. >>host: with mr. wilkins any relation to roger wilkins? >> he is related to another family. that family is related to a
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professor at harvard who was also wilkins but it is a chicago, illinois republican as opposed to the democrat roger naacp. >>host: mary frances berry how did the administration change with the kennedy and johnson administration? >>guest: i then called the chapter about friends among friends because the commissioners all said he is a good solid democrats and now was the time. they did not know the bad bobby kennedy that i call him then, they were making fun of the commission. they are recommending this?
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there were not hostile to civil rights. the problem was the committees of congress were controlled by democrats from the south. mcclellan, and mississippi, they control the judiciary committee and judicial appointments. so it has been a friendly reception. but the administration would take the recommendations to incorporate them later on but intel and they were simply being polite that these people think we will do this. we cannot do this. so they found out they tried to cooperate but the independence that made them the independent voice was important and they should
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not try to be friendly. their job was to be a watchdog and they learned that than kennedy was assassinated and then because of the civil-rights movement with a proposed with legislation with the civil-rights act was enacted into law the. >>host: at what point* did you become aware of the civil-rights commission? >>guest: i became aware when i was in a graduate program they would ask me if i would in the '60s and '70s. they were very good reports. i was very much aware.
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and the commission asked me to ask if i would write something with abortion rights and let history had been and i did a report for them. >>host: what is your history? >> what to stage where you from? >> i am from asheville my family and their relatives are there. when i went to howard university for seven to the history department with a ph.d. then to the law school to do legal history. then you had to get both degrees but not at the same time. but now that you can. [laughter] i had to do one then the
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other. >>host: did you come north to graduate school on purpose. >>guest: howard. absolutely. with those negros is we were called i went to howard. that made sense but one of the first to announce that was black in the ph.d. program. they said they were surprised to see me. onetime bay negro came years ago he did not graduate. [laughter] i was sent there because they wanted me to work with a particular professor. >>host: who are your parents? >>guest: pour falk.
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all my father left us early. lost or stolen or strayed and my mother raised us and i spent time in an orphanage when i was an infant. my mother raised us on their own my generation was the first generation to go to college. she is a hell of a lot smarter than i am in dishy wanted to get a high-school but there was none to go to at that time. she wanted us to get educated. >>host: when do you being interested in public policy? >> i started to do legal history and michigan. with the draft enacted to
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the civil war. with all of the materials generated from agencies have the power is exercised how do the powerless get people to listen to them? because when you go to use in antonio texas the first commission held with latinos that i write about nobody answers-- listens to them and kids worse days kicked at a school because spanish
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as a dirty language. the conditions were awful. or if you read about otis do was and were run over by a car and the commission was sent to him because he was a korean war veteran. they stopped the car and shot him for no reason. later it was because he was black. he was paralyzed but yet the da did not want to give him a pension because it was his fault. and he would ask everybody to help them. to find out what is going on and they knew that they were
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paralyzed how that happened to him. but what i am interested in there may be a voice as a people would listen. >> what about congress are president to disband? >> ronald reagan tried to do that. it amazes me how reagan has become one of the most beloved presidents. but people forget the stuff that happened there wanted to make sure civil-rights laws were not enforced the way they were supposed to be.
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so he decided to replace the commissioners they did not want anybody to watchdog them. then we got into of big fight i sued them and i won the lawsuit the court said the commission should be a watchdog and i said it should be a watchdog and not the lap dog but they succeeded to change the direction and even though we could get some traction like bush be gore, going out of the voter suppression it has never been the same. reagan succeeded to listen to ordinary people and is
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not independent. so they should endorse whatever the administration said. so those political appointees, their job is to monitor them. and to make suggestions. in the most recent election with the activity taking place the civil-rights commission should have been at the center of the debate based on history, and experience in voting right suppression. it is nowhere to be seen. so what needs to happen it
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needs to be converted by the congress are they will get rid of it. >> what is the current makeup? >> it is bipartisan. eight members. four and four. no more than four of the same political party. but the they want to appoint somebody they have them change their party and then they appoint to them anyway. the way this structure is now because of ronald reagan, it is hard to get a majority to do anything constructive. they are not supposed to be people who are objective for mine tastes were those two are widely respected there
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will be aggressive or catering to their party. >>host: who is the chair? >> i have no idea. i've no idea what it is doing i assume nothing. it has been, since i left i have no idea. >>host: why did you leave in 2007? >>guest: my term would be up in january, said 2004. when bush was reelected then i saw no sense to stick around for that. i did not want him to appoint me and i'm sure he would not. so i left. >>host: be president gets to appoint all of them? >>guest: four of them. as a result of president reagan trying to fire
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us, congress passed a compromise that expanded the commission from six people up at eight. congress can appoint four and there is no confirmation. used to have to be confirmed by the senate and then you could weigh yen. now is considered a patronage position. >>host: mary frances berry did you have any relationship with ronald reagan with republican senator at the time? jesse helms? gimmicky used to send me a birthday cards. him and strom thurmond. the only interaction i would have with them is that
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kennedy center where a member of congress invited me. he seems very personable but the thing about ronald reagan is he told the press when he fired me a reporter told me he said i fired her because she serves up my pleasure and i am not getting any pleasure. they got a big laugh. that is almost as bad in the bush to administration justice department supposedly said he liked his coffee like mary frances berry. black and a better. that made the rounds. that was brought into evidence and they said the
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president does not fire people who are in the independent agency because they watchdog. they're supposed to be monitoring for what he does matisses and affable person. ionize the guy to have a beer with. >>host: of what are you most proud of your service. >>guest: i bet you're going to ask me when i was most proud of period. that being a part of the anti-apartheid movement that with the commission i am proud of the hearings in florida with the 2000 election because we heard from people that nobody would listen to and we found out there were thousands who are registered to
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vote, legal voters and they would not let them vote och. i will never forget the minister lynda when to vote they told him he was a convicted felon and he said that is not true. i've only been to the courthouse to testify in a case. and he said i voted here last time. in front of friends and neighbors they said you have to get out of here. of course, he was not. they had re negative upped the information on voters and purged of voter list and eight they would say they were felons. i am very proud you cannot
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and voter suppression but this time around the commission did not follow up in the still have instances of voter suppression in this country. >>host: what to do here? >>guest: history of american law. and i teach the course to anybody who wants to take it from the english period with the construction and i teach a seminar that i called the history of social change. this is about topics that i and interested in. and i do what i am interested in. says history have any place
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of foreign policy? of course. this semester we do elegy bt rights, education, and students read material from all sides of the issues. >>host: day ms washington? >> nine this the of little bit of power because the matter how small the agency or miniscule the power when people have problems problems, sometimes you can help them. with the commission imus being able to bring people that no one heard from war would be listened to. >> this is your third or fourth book? >>guest: no. have written many more.
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maybe nine or 10. i am working on one right now. the topic is what does that mean, it is on voter fraud. i found a place in louisiana where they seem to have a persistent record of voter fraud from the 19th century until now. i was given records that nobody else has. so if you want to see voter suppression here it is. >> when we you see that? >> what about the term post racial? >> they are an idiot.
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there is a big debate about this when obama was selected by the democrats but we are beyond thinking about issues of race. so even the presence of all all, and the family raises racial questions for some people. so on the way to be post racial but it is fair to say that we are not now. >>host: do you have a relationship with president of, now? >>guest: no. t. levin. her most recent book former chairwoman here is the
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